Lack of Curiosity Might Be a Sin
By Jan Edmiston, DMin ’01 and 222nd General Assembly Co-moderator with T. Denise Anderson.
I can’t think of examples of Jesus being curious (because he already knew what was going on cosmically or in other people’s minds? I don’t know.) But being curious seems to be an excellent way to help us live our lives.
- Instead of dismissing the person so unlike us that we automatically hate them or judge them, consider why they are the way they are. We don’t have to like everybody, but we are called to treat everybody with dignity.
- Instead of engaging in small talk at parties, risk asking something more interesting: Do you like to sing? What’s your favorite place to hang out? Do you like art? What kind?
- Instead of connecting to get something out of somebody (i.e. trying to befriend a person who can help you get a job, be cool, etc.) learn from that person and consider that learning the gift.
- Instead of talking about ourselves, ask questions that help people share what they do well, what they’ve accomplished, what they’d like to achieve.
Being curious is one of my favorite traits in a person – especially in a person with whom I work professionally or hang out with socially.
Curious people are neither self-absorbed nor fascinated with themselves. They are inherently appreciative of others’ skills, interests, experiences. They are naturally grateful. They are lifelong learners.
And this brings me to Church World. Among the saddest things I’ve ever heard in church:
- From a 40-something elder: “I haven’t learned anything new about God and the Bible since the 7th grade. I already know what I need to know.”
- From a 60-something pastor: “I don’t take classes or workshops at this point in my ministry. Been there. Done that.“
The world is endlessly interesting because it’s how God created things to be. It’s about the back stories: the story behind that river’s name, the story behind that activist’s life choices, the story behind that child’s fears, the story behind that recipe’s presence in the family cookbook, the story behind that song’s lyrics, the story behind that friend’s scars, the story behind that parable, the story behind that prophesy, the story behind that Levitical law about rock badgers, the story behind that fountain in the church courtyard, the story behind the portrait in the church library, the story behind the custom of wearing clergy collars, the story behind the annual strawberry festival, the story about the pastor who ran off with the liturgical dancer back in the seventies.
Aren’t you curious? And if not, why not?
Keep Church World curious! The Center for Lifelong Learning offers classes and certificate programs to keep educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world. See our class list.
Jan Edmiston, GA Co-Moderator with T. Denise Anderson, is the associate executive presbyter for ministry in the Presbytery of Chicago, where she has served since 2011. Prior to that she served congregations in northern Virginia and New York. She completed her MDiv at Andover Newton Theological School and her DMin in Christian Spirituality at CTS in 2001. She has graciously agreed to let us repost some of her blog entries (including guest bloggers) from A Church for Starving Artists.
And in case you were curious, the photo is a rock badger, and, according to Leviticus, we’re not supposed to eat them. This photo was taken by Bjorn Christian Torrissen.